5G Towers On Fire: COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories Fuel Attacks
At least 20 different 5G towers across the UK have been vandalised in the last week. The 5G vandalism was carried out by arsonists across various locations in the UK.
The attacks are said to have been fuelled by false conspiracy theories shared on social media in relation to Coronavirus or COVID19. It is uncertain exactly how many UK residents with 5G phones were affected by the issue.
Where to learn more about COVID-19Those seeking to learn more about Coronavirus (COVID-19) are strongly encouraged to focus their attention on reliable sources like the World Health Organisation (WHO) or National Health Service (NHS) websites. Be wary of consuming or sharing information that is not coming from a medically reliable and impartial source.
Police have now launched a formal investigation into exactly how the 5G towers were set alight. Penalties for the arsonists in question are likely to be strict, especially given how much residents and emergency services are relying on telecommunications during the current health crisis.
Want to learn more about 5G in the UK?The 5G rollout now involves some of the UK’s major cities and has already occurred across most major networks. To learn more about 5G check out our helpful guide to 5G in the UK.
5G Conspiracy Theories
As anyone with internet access will know, it’s hard to escape information about the COVID-19 outbreak these days. But not all of this information is based on real facts. Misinformation, fake news and conspiracy theories cloud the information online, and in this case it is thought that conspiracy theorists have resorted to vandalism at the expense of the UK 5G network.
The motivation to set alight 5G towers was allegedly driven by one conspiracy theory in particular. A theory shared on Facebook accompanied by an image of three men wearing medical masks and a sign which simply reads ‘5G’. This conspiracy theory is based on the accusation that Coronavirus is a ‘hoax’ and that the pandemic was ‘fabricated’ in an attempt to conceal a global outbreak of ‘5G syndrome’.
The original conspiracy theory post in question has since been flagged by Facebook. The flagging of misinformation or fake news is part of Facebook's latest efforts to combat false information spreading on their platform.
It’s also worth noting that there is no substantial evidence to back up any claims that COVID-19 was started by 5G technology. Infact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and National Health Service (NHS) both classify COVID-19 as a viral illness that can be spread from human to human (and in some cases, from humans to animals).
Which 5G Providers Were Hit?
Vodafone 5G towers seem to have been hardest hit by the recent arson attacks, but they weren’t the only mobile phone provider hit during the Coronavirus outbreak. Mobile phone operator EE have also suffered, with at least one tower in Birmingham that doesn’t even provide 5G signal, set on fire by arsonists.
A Vodafone spokesperson has responded to the reports of 5G vandalism when speaking with The Verge - and shared that four cell towers were targeted last week. A spokesperson from EE has also stated that ‘engineers are assessing the cause of the fire at one of our towers in Birmingham. If it transpires that it was arson, which looks likely at this time, then we will work to help West Midlands police identify a culprit’.
The EE tower in question served thousands of customers in the Birmingham area with 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity and the tower has sustained significant damage.
The attacks occurred across both England and Northern Ireland, with attacks in Belfast and Birmingham occurring last Thursday. A third attack occurred in England’s Liverpool area on Friday, which followed bizzare threats received by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson.
Who Could Be Affected?
Despite the fact that 5G has only more recently become available in the United Kingdom many business and individuals already rely on the service. With the COVID-19 lockdowns currently placed on the population, many individuals may be relying more heavily on telecommunications services to maintain social ties.
Telecommunications regulator Ofcom has shared that 5G is being used or tested across various social and commercial pursuits including farming and healthcare. One local council has even installed a network of 5G nodes on lamp posts that are aimed towards helping social care patients. The network allows social care patients and their families to stay connected via virtual reality and even enables biomonitors to detect whether or not patients are dehydrated.
The healthcare sector has benefitted from 5G, with networks allowing pharmacists to check whether or not their patients are taking their medication whilst remaining completely remote.
Future advancements in healthcare thanks to the 5G network have also been predicted. Technology that allows medical students to practice surgery in a connected, virtual reality environment - that even allows them to feel the surgery they’re training to deliver - is a future possibility.
Emergency services could also benefit from 5G, with ‘smart ambulances’ currently on the horizon. One mobile network is trialling ambulances equipped with 5G technology, which explores how patients could be treated in an emergency by connecting paramedics with hospital staff.
It is uncertain as to whether the research or endeavours above have been halted by the current spate of 5G vandalism or not.